Tuesday, December 7, 2010

waking up routines.

another ten minute writing exercise.

Most mornings I wake up repeatedly from about four a.m. on. The house is chilly at night -- the thermostat is set for 65 F, so I don't stir usually until the programme kicks in and the furnace comes on. What happens next -- if I'm not getting up right away, I fumble about and find whatever I was reading when i gave up the night before. It's usually a magazine -- the New Yorker or the Atlantic; weekly, the TLS. In the morning, if I'm feeling alert, I take a look at the TLS crossword and see if anything shakes loose. Two or three times I've been able to find all the answers...but I don't usually get my entry copied and mailed in before the deadline. Delivery of the magazine is sometimes a bit erratic.

Among the reviews I enjoy especially reviews on memoirs, biographies, and works of theology. Since I retired I don't leap up and negotiate with Amazon.ca quite as readily when a book looks appetizing, but now and then I'll look for a title in local bookstores.

If I don't take on a magazine crossword, I'll look at one of the puzzles in my New York Times puzzle-a-day calendar. The easy ones are Monday and Tuesday, they get harder as the week goes on. But there are conventions and protocols even in the difficult ones. They help steer us toward solutions.

Before I get out of bed, usually, I take the morning meds with whatever is left in the bottom of the mug I took to bed with me the night before. Sometimes a couple of big fierce acetaminophen, depending on how much my hands ache.

Then it's time to check the windows...ice at the bottom of the panes means COLD; and time to listen to the household thumps and rustlings, is the shower free?

And somewhere in there, briefly, a little Morning Prayer.

Feet on the floor, shuffle into the moccasins, and head for the kitchen.

Monday, December 6, 2010

for the time being...

I've come to a kind of temporary decision about this blog; until further notice, I will try to blog daily but I will do so under the rubric of a "free write" exercise. I used to assign these when I was a sessional instructor (lowest form of vertebrate life) at Colourful U. Teaching English to "students with no known native language".

From time to time, though, I would teach a senior-level course in writing non-fiction prose, with a great gamut of students from the already-published, to the "barely passed first year survey, needs to learn more English".

This was NOT an English as a Second Language course, just to be clear about that.

And the best timetable of all was the intersession or summer session one -- 2.5 hours a day, every day, for six weeks. If you do ANYTHING for 2.5 hours per day for six weeks, you are going to get better at it. You flat out cannot help yourself. It's nature.

Used to start those sessions with a "free write" -- I would set an aphorism or a limerick or a definition or a contentious remark of some sort as a starter and say, "GO, just as hard as you can go, for ten minutes. Do not lift pen from paper. If you don't know what to write, write 'I don't know what to write' and repeat until something occurs to you."

There was some resistance to this gambit. Especially from young ladies of East Asian extraction, "No, no, Dr. Rambler, this is not correct, must first make careful outline of thoughts, then organize, then write..." Much minor-key moaning, or maybe keening, when I forbade them to write outlines in advance.

It's not a bad way to start to write a sermon either, I have found, since then. Stream of semi-consciousness, perhaps. At least, it gets the throat cleared. Or the mind snaked.

And this was a 10 minute free-write. I'll find a pic to head it up, and then sign off. See you tomorrow. Keep the faith. Try to behave yourselves.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just sitting down with Mr. Ballantine and some nice supper only slightly charred, in time to enjoy the final scenes of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the 1935 version. They showed it to us when I was in high school...I remember it being quite the SPARKLIEST thing I had ever seen. And I was a bit bemused at Hollywood figures doing Shakespeare, especially Mickey Rooney and Jimmy Cagney. (the other similar experience was the film of Julius Caesar with Marlon Brando as Mark Antony... But now I have a little more appreciation of professional actors having a very good time with roles far from their usual range...

A pleasant day today, a stimulating meeting in the morning, lunch with Daughter Unit, and cheerful non-productivity from then on.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

to and fro

...across the city today.
Midweek Eucharist, with half a dozen women; then our Advent study; we are reading John Terpstra's "Two Couples, Four Voices." Last week, Joseph; this week, Mary. Next week, Elizabeth. Good strong coffee and nice apricot-date bread. Socializing from the Rectorial Dog, who is convivial by nature, but polite. He sits warmly on one's feet and rolls his eyes.

Then Fab-Rector and the Rambler tottered away for lunch. Italian, very splendid. We treated ourselves to extras thanks to a very generous soul who gave us a nice little Lunch Fund some time ago. The proprietor understands the art of making much of his clientele. We can stand quite a lot of this!

Home again...lots of work to do here in the house...did a little writing; and now time to chase some laundry, make a little supper, probably a large, crunchy, time-consuming SALAD after our big lunch.

Meetings tomorrow and lunch with the Daughter Unit.

Preaching Sunday. "Snakes," I say.